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Saturday, December 11, 2004 CE

Prisoners



We all are prisoners. Even those who think they are free. Probably they are even more prisoners, if I can use the word as an adjective. But prisoners of what? Who is helding us hostage? The answer to that question is as simple as it is surprising: Ourselves.

And how did I arrive to that conclusion? Here it goes.

What defines ourselves in the deepest way? It is our genes. They dictate how we look like, what diseases we have or are going to have, when are going to die...As is it masterfully explained in "The Selfish Gene", they also dictate our behaviors. They explain why we feed our kids, why we love our brothers, sisters and cousins, why we tend to prefer people similar to us and to dislike what is different. Genes order us to help them reproduce, so they tell us to get resources at whatever cost. They tell the tiger to kill the zebra and they tell beggar to go and beg. They command us to protect ourselves, not for the sake of the individual, but for them to keep existing in the next generation. They use our bodies as reproductive machines and persevere after our deaths as individuals

The history of humanity, since we started to live in groups and build societies, millions of years ago is a huge fight against our genes. Every law we have, every moment of education and love, every example of tolerance towards what is different is a great NO to our captors. Every time we care for the sick, every time we express arts is a act of rebellion. They want us live in a jungle where "the survival of the fittest" is the single rule, with the purpose of building better and better reproductive machines.

What is the first duty of a prisoner? The first duty of a prisoner is to escape. Whenever we enlighten our minds, whenever we question and whenever we show altrusitic behavior we are escaping from the kidnappers. Closemindedness, intolerance, egoism, ethnocentrism are the signs of the prisoner.

Lupus est homo homini
Man is man's wolf

Plautus

Check this site for Latin maxims

3 Comments:

Blogger TOKilla said...

Well Doctor Marco, or should I say John Calvin. Maybe its just me, but the whole concept of predestination seems outlandish and ludicrous. To say that we are defined purely by our genes is a very reductionist idea. By saying that, you discout everything you've ever learned because it was obtained outside of your DNA. Your logic only works half the time. Yea I could be predisposed to baldness because of heredity, but other diseases, like malaria or AIDS, I can guarantee that I will never get because of my environment and life choices. These things are in no way related to my genes (nature), but rather my environment and relationships and other things (nurture) that have affected me after my DNA was formed.

The argument is definitely two sided, but you would have us believe that our genes are a virus, infesting our bodies to propagate its existence. I'll agree that we are equipped with some "animal" instincts to ensure our survival, but expressing emotion is what makes us human, not rebels.

1:13 AM  
Blogger TOKilla said...

One more thing, I forgot to point out the blatant contradiction. You say that our genes want to continue existence , yet somehow coming together and forming civilizations is a rebellion. Civilazation has ensured survival more than anything else. By civilizing and forming a town, we allow for specialization. One person is the farmer and feeds everyone, allowing other people to build houses, make clothes, practice medicine, all to improve the quality of life. Since when has an individual stood up against a civilization without getting completely rampaged (Hollywood excluded). Finally, civilization would not have lasted for 4000 years had it not been beneficial towards continuing the life of our genes.

1:20 AM  
Blogger Doctor Marco said...

Thanks for commenting about my post. I consider your comment so important that I will place my response as a new post, basically because it gives me freedom to put some links.

First of all, predestination is not involved in the theory I tried to explain. Our genes form us, that is a fact, they do not give us a destiny. Genes are just instructions to build proteins. That is why I carefully used the verbs "to order" and "to dictate". A gene is not an intelligent being so it cannot "want" something.

I understand the use of the word "outlandish" because many people will find the concepts I used as bizarre since they are not familiarized with molecular biology or genetics, however, the word "ludicrous" is not acceptable in the debate of a topic that is philosophically deep and that has profound impact in the understanding of our behaviors.

I do not see a problem with reductionism. We have to accept what we are and not believe what we want to be. Being humble is the very first tool we need to give our marveolus brain to understand our surroundings. Carl Sagan said 2 things: "I do not want to believe, I want to know" and "We are star's dust"

I am a physician and I can to tell you that assuring that someone will or will not have malaria or AIDS due to "life choices" is not exact. You could be the one who receives the 1 out of 3 000 000 HIV-infected packed red blood cells transfusion. On the other hand, there are at least 6 genetic mutations that protect humans from malaria and there is the mutation in the CCR5 gene that protects people form acquiring the HIV infection, and therefore AIDS. So genes are definitely involved in the protection from the diseases you mentioned

We are the product of our genes, they are not foreign to us or "virus" as you implied I said. Genes created our mind and our mind has to be aware of its own weaknesses in order to avoid autodestruction from our instincts. Education helps a lot in keeping away egoism, ethnocentrism, racism, etc...Species come and go. Genes remain. There are genes hundreds of millions years old and remember that in 1962 and 1983, the human race and its civilization was almost wiped out from the face of Earth after a couple of hundred thousand years of existence.

2:30 AM  

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